The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence highlighted bitcoin’s limited role in Russia’s 2016 election hacking campaign in a report that reaffirmed the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion the Kremlin worked to put Donald J. Trump in the White House in 2016.
- Released Tuesday in redacted form, the final report added new details and accusations to U.S. authorities' broad-based belief that Russia used disinformation, hacking and tactical leaks to bolster then-candidate Trump's presidential bid.
- But it also revealed the sometimes salacious role cryptocurrency played in helping the Russians execute their influence campaign.
- For example, the report suggests jailed Russian spy Maria Butina, whose fling with Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne led to the crypto booster's August 2019 ouster, may have attended a 2015 libertarian convention discussion on bitcoin that Byrne led.
- "[Byrne's] remarks about the coming 'electronic' changes in our 21st century economy were exciting," read a draft email between businessman Paul Erickson and Butina that the committee obtained.
- Butina told the committee that "someone was talking about bitcoin, and there were some ideas that I wanted to discover" at the conference, but never specifically named Byrne.
- The write-up also reiterated crypto allegations previously revealed in past reports and indictments, including those released in the wake of the report by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
- Bitcoin payments paid for the "DCLeaks.com" domain that hosted leaked DNC emails, as well as the virtual private servers Russia's GRU used during their spear-phishing campaign, the report said.
- That bitcoin was new, too: The Russians are said to have mined it themselves.